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Comeback Kings - South Wales Echo, 5th December 2007

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Title: Comeback Kings
Publication: South Wales Echo
Date: Wednesday 5th December 2007
Writer: Gavin Allen


Manic Street Preachers reclaimed their grandeur in 2007 because, according to James Dean Bradfield, they rediscovered their fear of failure.

After the underwhelming album double of Know Your Enemy and Lifeblood the Manics looked drained and confused. They were approaching the kill-or-cure point of their career.

Thankfully, they found the medicine before the sword.

Their eighth album Send Away The Tigers, released in May, charted at No 2 and as the year progressed they continued to build momentum.

A few awards followed, including Best Track for Your Love Alone from Q Magazine and Best Welsh Band at last week's Pop Factory Awards, and they end the year as the comeback kings of 2007.

It's a title the band enjoy rather than resent. "It's kind of weird but I'm fine with all that kind of stuff because we did have a fallow couple of years after Lifeblood," said Bradfield, leaning against a corridor wall at XFM's headquarters in Cardiff Bay.

"Contrary to popular belief I don't think we're as obsessed with being as big as we wanted to be when we were quite young.

"But I'd be a liar if I said we don't read reviews, we have always been the kind of people that read reviews.

"You can't be right all the time and sometimes journalists can definitely spot a chink in your armour.

"I think that one of the things that has always driven us on is fear of failure, whether it was this album or going to London in the early days and having to face that tacit anti-Welshness, and we always fed off that.

"So when it came to getting the reviews in for this album I think we were reinvigorated because we felt as if we had been vindicated, that it was a fruition of our instincts again, that we were back on form."

Tomorrow night the band return to the CIA for the first time since January 2005 when they played an anaemic set on the Lifeblood tour and the experience is still felt within the band.

"I think the Lifeblood tour was strange," said Bradfield, furrowing his brow on behalf of Nicky Wire and Sean Moore.

"We had created an album that was an alternative reality of ourselves so when it came to playing that live it felt strange, not as rock and roll as usual. But when it comes to playing this album live it feels like a shining punk rock and roll album again, and us like a shiny punk rock and roll band again.

"During the period 1996-2002 we did that arena thing to death and perhaps people had got bored with seeing us in arenas - they wanted to see more personal shows from us.

"So playing at Cardiff University earlier this year instead of the CIA was part of trying to 'rocknroll-acise' it all again."

That approach has been such a success that the band are pursuing it further, with plans for their next album already fermenting.

"We have definitely got something in mind in terms of what we want to do over the next couple of years or so, but it wouldn't be a successor to Send Away The Tigers," said Bradfield intriguingly.

"It would still be quite punk-based rock'n'roll, but not quite as anthemic.

"It's more likely to be something ...perhaps..." he paused, digging for the exact word, "a bit more...twisted."